A couple days ago, I was asked on my ask.fm account, ask.fm/MDPhDToBe, the following question:
“You mentioned that you wanted to go to pharmacy school initially, why? What advice could you give to pre-pharm students? What made you change your mind?”
And my response was:
“I was actually first pre-med at the start of high school, but then decided I wanted to do pharmacy instead during my first summer of volunteering at a hospital because I didn’t think I’d want the extensive patient contact (I was rather shy). I wanted whatever I did to contribute to healthcare and I liked pharmacy’s emphasis on drugs and drug interactions.
When I came to college, I was overwhelmed with the amount of people wanting to do pharmacy, and so I wanted to do something different. Also, it was at this time that I was introduced to research and became fascinated with genetics research and the possibility of designing personalized medicine. And so, I changed to wanting to do research that contributed to the design of drugs – as I still want to. It’s not like I completely decided against pharmacy but rather that I incorporated my interest in pharmacy into another way of contributing to health care.
As for my advice, I’ll tell you what a pharmacist that I shadowed in high school told me. Learn chemistry. Lots and lots of chemistry. In fact, her advice was a major reason that I decided to take AP chemistry in high school, which led to majoring in chemistry in college. Also, if your college has a pharmacy school, look to see if they offer courses for undergraduate students. Mine did and so through it I have taken Introduction to Pharmacy, Applied Medical Terminology, Non-Prescription Medications and Self-Care, and Drugs and the U.S. Healthcare System, which all would be helpful classes for the pre-pharm student. My favorite was definitely Drugs and the U.S. Healthcare System because it was an online forum class that we seriously just read about and discussed issues with pharmaceuticals in the healthcare system and what could be done to fix those issues. It was very stimulating and helped me learn a ton about the pharmaceutical industry and ethical issues that doctors and pharmacists face!”
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! I talked to one of my best friends and fellow lab mate who was just accepted to pharmacy school this year (yay her!) for any advice she would have for a pre-pharmacy student. Here’s her biggest piece of advice:
When deciding which classes to take, make sure to check what classes are required by the pharmacy schools you plan on applying to! Their requirements are not as consistent as medical schools. For example, she only took one semester of biology because our school’s pharmacy school only required that, but most colleges require two semesters, which severely limited her options for schools. Also, some are more picky about which classes will fill their requirements. So have schools in mind when you plan what classes you take in undergrad so that you can make sure that you fulfill ALL of the requirements.
Best of luck! 🙂